Ahhh,Britain. The land of Shakespeare and the Beatles,Churchill and the Queen. Rolling green hills,groovy London shops,hip plaids splashed over raincoats and umbrellas.
Cut to the reality of 2009: the highest teen pregnancy rate in western Europe,a binge drinking culture that leaves drunk teens splayed out in the streets and rising knife crime that has turned some pub fights into deadly affairs. Ahhh,Britain.
In the latest symbol of what some are calling broken Britain, 13-year-old Alfie and his 15-year-old girlfriend Chantelle became parents last week. The news sparked a flurry of handwringing from the media and even ordinary folk admitted it didnt help that Alfie barely looked 10,let alone 13,as he cradled his newborn daughter.
Alfies father,who reportedly has nine or ten children of his own,gamely promised to have a birds and the bees chat with his son to prevent him from producing a second child before he grows facial hair. Somehow that was not reassuring. Alfies daughter Maisie was reportedly conceived when he was 12. Chantelles parents let the lad spend the night with their daughter,14 at the time,at their public housing unit near Eastbourne,70 miles southeast of London.
There are still some questions about the birth. The Sun newspaper did not say whether any tests were conducted to prove the boys paternity,and The Sunday Times reported that at least two other teens claimed to have slept with the young mother. Alfie told The Sun he plans to look after his newborn daughter.
But in a heartbreaking interview,the boy admitted he didnt know what the word financially meant and acknowledged he doesnt even get an allowance. While some saw a larger portrait of societys ills in Maisies birth to underage parents,others called it an aberration.